Special Topics in History: Drugs and Data, An Introduction to Digital History

Term: 

Spring 2020

Req: 

HASS-H

 

Description:  In this class, you will learn how to use digital techniques in your historical research.  We will cover how to analyze datasets, how to create interactive maps and visualizations, and how to set up your own website to present your findings.  Our discussions will be grounded in the history of drugs in the United States from alcohol prohibition to algorithmic bias in today’s drug courts, which we will explore using news reports, digital projects, and video games.  Throughout the semester, you will work on a collaborative final project for which you will  analyze a dataset with thousands of sources and use it to develop your own research questions. Maybe you want to investigate prescription data behind the current opioid epidemic, or you might want to explore gender representations in cigarette advertisements. There are many exciting datasets for us to work with.

Course Objectives:

In addition to learning about the history of licit and illicit drugs in the United States, you will learn key digital history skills. By the end of the class, you will be able to:

  • Use quantitative data for historical research
  • Critique and clean datasets
  • Perform basic text analysis
  • Create interactive visualizations
  • Use mapping tools
  • Host projects on your own website
     

​​ Instructor: Stephan Risi Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Digital Humanities Lab

​Course Website: https://srisi.github.io/digital_history/